In the age of incessant technological advancement, the phenomenon of decentralized cryptocurrency as quickly emerged as an inescapable element of social, economic and legal discourse. At the same time, pre-eminent international tax issues such as tax evasion, profit shifting and other criminal activity have deeply exacerbated. A correlation coefficient does not necessarily exist between these two variables. However, it is often intimated that the magnitude of tax evasion is predicated on the opportunities for evasion.
In cognisance of this fact, this essay tenders the argument that cryptocurrency portends serious potential as a foreboding role player in the international tax evasion rhetoric. It is highlighted that – in spite of the growing apprehension of cryptocurrency – many regulatory authorities and institutions maintain a passive disposition towards the intricacies of cryptocurrency.
As such the primary research objective is steered towards tracing the origination and operation of cryptocurrency and Bitcoin in particular. Utilizing this point of departure, certain attributes of Bitcoin are highlighted as being problematic from a tax administration and enforcement perspective. It is demonstrated how the idiosyncratic features of Bitcoin render it propitious to the general polemic of tax evasion. An argument is further appraised that depicts Bitcoin as potentially having functional intersections to conventional notions of tax havens. The rampant criminal activity that has been engendered by cryptocurrency is also portrayed.
The research is limited to examination of the potential of Bitcoin in regard to cross-border tax evasion and illicit financial flows. As such aspects such as the potential interaction of Bitcoin with Value-Added tax and exchange control are omitted.
On finality, an examination is conducted on the responses to Bitcoin from authorities in the United States and South Africa. It is found that despite a lack of regulatory congruity from different bodies in the United States, gallant strides have been made in classifying Bitcoin and attending to the tax evasion threats it poses. On the other hand, it is found that South African authorities have cognized the existence of Bitcoin. This has however not led to any direct, concrete regulatory response. In light of this, a number of recommendations have been suggested as a catalyst for reform.
Mini Dissertation (LLM)--University of Pretoria, 2019.